How we test toilet paper

Here’s how we determine which toilet papers are both soft and strong.

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It’s important to know if a strong product’s going to be tough to tear. And if it’s quick to disintegrate in water, will it puncture at the wrong time?

How we choose what we test

We aim to test products that you’re likely to see when you head to the shops, plus some you might not be aware of – in this case, bamboo toilet paper bought via a subscription service, where toilet rolls are delivered to your home every few weeks.

Before we buy, we do our research: we visit stores, both online and physical; we talk to experts and consumers; and we ask manufacturers about their range of products. We want to capture new developments in the market and make sure the products we test will be available after we’ve published our results.

Once we’ve decided which products to test, we buy them in the same way that any consumer would.

How we test

Our assessment includes:

Disintegration time (30%)

We throw a sheet of paper into a “slosh box” and start timing. The faster the sample disintegrates, the better. Paper that’s slow to break down in water could block the pipes.

Puncture resistance (30%)

The same machine tests resistance to puncturing by slowly pushing a steel tube through a sheet of paper. The force required to break through the sheet is recorded. A higher force is better – paper that breaks easily can pose a hygiene risk.

Environmental impact (25%)

We award higher scores to products that have been manufactured in New Zealand using a large percentage of locally sourced raw materials. Not only does their manufacture employ Kiwis, it also means transport emissions are reduced as paper doesn’t need to be imported.

Likewise, we award higher scores to products that contain recycled paper or certain alternative materials (eg bamboo), and those that have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification.

Printed and scented products and those with lotion lose points as including these optional features consumes resources unnecessarily.

We rate products as good, OK and poor for environmental impact. We display these as scores of 90, 60 and 30 respectively.

Separation ease (15%)

We use a machine to measure the force required to separate the sheets at the perforation. The easier it is for the toilet paper to tear, the better.

Softness

Five “sensory panellists” evaluate softness with their fingertips and by crumpling the paper into a ball. We rate products as good, OK and poor for comfort. We display these as scores of 90, 60 and 30 respectively. The softness grade doesn’t count towards the overall rating.

Toilet paper test results and buying guide

Toilet paper test results and buying guide

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Toilet paper test results and buying guide

When nature calls, which loo paper should you reach for? Our buying guide and test results will help you choose the best bog roll for your bottom line. We've tested 26 toilet papers.

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